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Gordon Brown must stop subsidising global warming

21 March 2007

Anti-poverty campaigners the World Development Movement today dramatised their call for the chancellor to end his £10.4 billion effective subsidy of the aviation industry with a tableau outside Downing Street at 11am on Wednesday 21 March.

In front of a replica No. 11 Downing St. door, a larger than life chancellor presented stand-ins for Virgin Airline’s Richard Branson, Easy Jet’s Stelios Haji-Ioannou, British Airway’s Willie Walsh and RyanAir’s Michael O’Leary with a red budget box stuffed with ‘bank notes’ representing the £10.4 billion subsidy received by airlines in form of fuel tax and VAT concessions.

WDM director Benedict Southworth said: “People from the world’s poorest communities are unlikely ever to set foot on a plane and make effectively no contribution to climate change. But it is those same people who face the worst consequences. 160,000 people already die due to climate change-related diseases and billions face floods, starvation and disease.

“The chancellor presents himself as a global leader in tackling world poverty, but climate change will have a devastating impact on the poor. It is impossible for Britain to make its fair share of emission cuts needed to keep temperatures below the critical 20C rise without tackling the growth in aviation emissions. Ending the £10.4 billion taxpayers’ effective subsidy to the airlines is a first step to achieve this.”


Notes to editors

[1] The UK government has committed to keeping global average temperatures below 2°C to prevent catastrophic climate change. The 60 per cent emission reduction target in the recently published climate change bill will not deliver this, as the government’s own Stern report noted.

[2] Aviation is now responsible for over 6 per cent of UK CO2 emissions, but the extra warming effects of aviation mean it makes up 10-15 per cent of the UK’s contribution to climate change and is the fastest growing source of emissions. By 2020, if Britain achieves the planned 30 per cent emissions cut set out in the draft climate bill while allowing aviation to grow at current rates, the real world drop in emissions will only be 19 per cent. The global climate does not ignore aviation emissions and the government must include powerful measures to curb aviation if it is to meet its objective to reduce global warming emissions.

[3] The UK emits 48 times more CO2 per person per year than the world’s 50 poorest countries. (US Energy Information Administration)

[4] The World Development Movement supports I Count - the campaign of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition with 4 million supporters in the UK. Stop Climate Chaos is a coalition of environment and development organisations, unions, faith, community and women's groups. I Count is successfully showing the public and politicians that climate change is not too big a problem to fix.



For photographs, comment or interview please contact:

Nick Wright
Press officer, World Development Movement
0207 820 4900, 07711 875 345, Email: [email protected]